After an oblique injury set him back a bit at the beginning of spring training, A’s outfielder Ka’ai Tom has been making a promising case for himself at the plate in hopes of getting a major league roster spot.
He was thankful for the training staff and those around him being patient as he came back from the injury, and explained Monday how patience in the batter's box has contributed to his overall success this spring.
“Just me trusting the organization and training staff to get me right and believe in the process,” Tom said on A’s Cast during Monday’s 4-4 tie against the Arizona Diamondbacks. “This definitely was a tough time, me showing up to camp and knowing that I have to be in rehab and not going right away, but everyone has been very supportive. I appreciate that from everyone and just the training staff just really making sure that I’m ready to go and not rushing anything.
"Bringing in positive vibes, because I definitely want to make an impact right away.”
That’s exactly what he’s doing.
Tom is batting .500 in camp with seven hits in 15 plate appearances.
“You really need to take a step back and understand that you just got to control what you can control, which is basically your attitude and effort -- not doing too much,” Tom said. “Those are things that will definitely have a player very sporadic, kind of hot and off. Just going up there and doing what I can control.”
“It’s kind of been something that I’ve always had since growing up,” he added. “Just a very simple kind of mindset approach. I learned that from my dad, my grandpa, I have two older siblings, they all played baseball so I was always around the baseball park.”
He said baseball is as complicated as it can get, so having a simple approach makes that easier, and even uses a “dance approach” when it comes to facing a hitter.
“Finding a nice simple rhythm with the pitcher,” Tom said. “When he dances, having a rhythm to home plate, I have a rhythm with him, it’s kind of like this dance thing and just kind of pick and choosing a side of the plate to do some damage with. Just really trying not to do too much.”
“I just love all of these opportunities and just making the most of it,” Tom said.
Tom was a Rule 5 Draft pick from the Cleveland Indians back in December and was considered to be the best hitter in the draft. Since coming to the A’s organization, Tom has embraced his role with the new organization.
“I really love it here,” he said. “My first few days here I was just getting to know places again. My first new organization, I was always with Cleveland.”
“It’s what we’ve been waiting for,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said Monday after the game. “When you draft a guy Rule 5, it means you’re intent is to keep. Granted it was a while back, and we’ve made some moves since, but he’s doing exactly what he’s kind of profiled to do. This is a big time in his career, he’s trying to stick on a big-league team and so far he’s doing a pretty nice job with it.”
Tom hopes to earn a spot in left field after Robbie Grossman left for the Detroit Tigers in free agency. The 26-year-old also offers a strong left-handed bat which also could fill the void Grossman left.
“The culture here in the Athletics is very welcoming, very genuine and I love it,” Tom explained. “Everyone gets along with each other and roots for each other.”